Seminar on “Enabling Education: Equipping Students for Life”

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Appendix A – Report on the Seminar

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. – Aristotle

Life comes with all its challenges and it is the purpose of education to equip individuals to face these challenges. We all are familiar with the challenges that life brings to us, however the idea behind this seminar was to collectively think of strategies in which we can equip our students to face these challenges effectively and in turn help to enable education.

With this thought, at the onset of its silver jubilee year 2014-15, Mahatma Education Society’s Pillai College of Education and Research (PCER), Chembur in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), organized an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Delhi, sponsored two day National Seminar on ‘Enabling Education: Equipping Students for Life’, held on the 18th and 19th July, 2014.

The four themes for discussion were:

  • Enhancing intra-personal skills for a better understanding of self
  • Enhancing inter-personal skills to build relationships with others
  • Helping to cope with social problems
  • Including the excluded

Day 1: 18th July 2014 Friday

Inauguration Session:
The seminar was inaugurated by seeking the blessings of the almighty and the lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries for the day. Our principal Dr. Sunita Wadikar welcomed the dignitaries and the participants and gave the audience a glimpse of Mahatma Education Society and its various institutions, its collaboration with TISS and thanked ICSSR for sponsoring the seminar. Dr. Reni Francis gave an overview about theme of the seminar. The chief guest for the session, Dr. Priam Pillai, the COO of Mahatma Education Society, felicitated Dr. Sunita Wadikar for her dedicated service of 25 years with PCER Chembur.

Dr. Priam Pillai then delivered the Keynote Address wherein he addressed the issue of examination fear and how the examinations become a barrier for student’s learning. He emphasized that marks do not make a man and hence we must not give it undue importance rather emphasise on building on the child’s talents.

The guest of honour for the seminar, Dr. G. G. Wankhede, Dean, School of Education, TISS, congratulated PCER, Chembur for organizing a seminar with quality. He highlighted the collaboration of foreign universities and colleges with TISS and invited the other colleges in Mumbai to utilize the resources and expertise available at TISS. He offered wholehearted support to further this collaboration through various programmes organised by TISS especially in the field of action research.

Dr. Smita Desai, the founder director of Drishti spoke about the various programs and services offered at the institution. Her talk focused on the essence of building the self esteem of individuals to enhance their life skills. It provided newer insights and changed our perspective about various issues.

Prof. Brijbala Suri, one of the faculty members of PCER Chembur, authored her third book on Hindi Method, which was released by Dr. Priam Pillai. She spoke on the importance of language as the medium for the development of life skills in individuals.

Panel Discussion:
The seminar had a Panel discussion on the theme ‘Enabling Education: Equipping for Life’ which saw panellists from the area of Teacher Education, NGO, School and Counselling present their perspectives on the theme. The moderator for the Panel discussion was Dr. Anna Fernandes.

Dr. Kalpana Kharade discussed the importance of developing life skills essential to enable the individuals who are excluded and to help them excel in every sphere of life. She beautifully interpreted the book authored by Steven Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. She took us into her world, as an individual with visual impairment and put forth her perspectives of including the excluded. Her views demonstrated her ideology.

Mrs. Dakshayani Madangopal highlighted on inclusive education and discussed her views on the true sense of inclusion. She presented facts and figures as appeared through research conducted both nationally and internationally and gave us insights into the perceptions about inclusive education of the parents and children who belonged to the underprivileged as well as the privileged.

Mrs. Sushila Shastri spoke about the social issues inflicting the Indian society pertaining to poverty, status of women, food and nutrition, education and so on. She drew our attention to the problems we face in our country and stimulated us to ponder upon the effects of poverty on education. Perhaps dealing effectively with poverty would pave way for better education of the underprivileged children.

Ms. Sharada Sharma emphasized on bringing about a paradigm shift in the education system and equipping students to face global challenges. She highlighted on developing intrapersonal skills and interpersonal skills which are essential for students to compete at a global platform.

Resource Person Presentation on Subtheme 1 and 2:
The Post-Lunch session on day 1 helped us to reflect on subtheme 1 and 2. Dr. Geeta Shetty was the resource person for this session. She began by illustrating the elements of intrapersonal skills. She then explained the physiological and psychological basis of developing intrapersonal skills while connecting it to inter personal skills. She emphasized that we should guide our students from being cognitive thinkers to meta-cognitive thinkers. Through simple activities she engaged the participants to understand the relationship between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. She touched upon the theory of ‘HELP’ and facilitated us to distinguish between ‘Ego Servers’ and “Social Servers’

Presentations by Participants Session 1:
The last session on day 1 was the presentation by the participants on subtheme 1 and 2. The seminar had presentations from different disciplines like Teacher Education, Science, Arts, Social Work and Home Science from all over India. In order to bring in creativity and innovativeness the presenters were given the option of presenting their ideas through paper presentation, poster presentations and demonstration of an innovative strategy based on the subthemes of the seminar. This session was chaired by Dr. Sally Enos. There were a total of 13 participants with 8 paper presenters, 4 poster presenters and 1 innovative strategy that was demonstrated by Ms. Gauri Hardikar. The presenters expressed varying perspectives on the theme of the seminar.

Day 2: 19th July, 2014

Resource Person Presentation on Subtheme 4:
The second day began with a presentation based on subtheme 4 by Dr. Gregg Beraton and Ms. Deepshika Mathur. They initially focused on clarifying the concept of inclusive education and its various aspects. Through an inspiring journey of ADAPT and its achievements they helped the participants understand that inclusion can be practically implemented in schools.

Presentations by Participants Session 2:
The second session of presentations by participants was chaired by Dr. Jayashree Ramanathan. It had 5 paper presenters, 3 Poster presenters and 1 innovative strategy that was demonstrated by Dr. Mary Devakumar.

Presentations by Participants Session 3:
The chairperson for the last session of presentations by participants was Dr. Vasundhara Padmanabhan. This session saw 4 paper presenters, 3 Poster presenters and 1 innovative strategy that was demonstrated by Dr. Samita Shetty. In order to give all the participants the opportunity to ponder and reflect upon all the presentations, parallel sessions were not arranged. Thus everyone present in the seminar could participate actively in these presentations.

Expert talk by Dr. Harish Shetty:
Dr. Harish Shetty encouraged the participants to unlock their negative self talk and retune it to positive self talk. He emphasised on the five essentials to enabling education – opportunities for learning to occur, to build friendships, to play, to experience achievement and to experience joy.

Thus the two day National seminar was successfully accomplished with the kind cooperation of the collaborating and sponsoring institutions, principal of PCER Dr. Sunita Wadikar, the various resource persons, the core committee, the organising committee and the participants.

Reported by:-
Dr. Samita Shetty (Convener)
Asst. Professor, PCER, Chembur